Utah Utes ranked 16th in final AP Top 25 football poll

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah Utes head coach Kyle Whittingham checks the scoreboard after Utah wide receiver Demari Simpkins (3) scored a touchdown for the Utes, in the Alamo Bowl, between the Utes and the Texas Longhorns, in San Antonio, Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2019.

The University of Utah’s 11-win season netted the Utes their best finish in the AP Top 25 since joining the Pac-12 nine years ago.

The Utes, Pac-12 South champions for the second straight season, were ranked 16th when the final poll was released following LSU’s 42-25 win over Clemson on Monday night in the College Football Playoff championship game.

A No. 16 final ranking represents the fourth time the Utes have appeared in the final AP Top 25 since entering the Pac-12 in 2011. It is the ninth time in program history Utah is appearing in the final poll (1994, 2003, 2004, 2008, 2009, 2014, 2015, 2016).

After winning the Pac-12 South in 2018, and returning a host of upperclassmen this fall, Utah entered the preseason poll at No. 14. That number rose to 10 after a 3-0 start, then dropped to No. 19 following a Pac-12-opening loss at USC on Sept. 20.

From there, the Utes ripped off eight straight wins to peak at No. 5 in the AP and Amway Coaches polls, plus the College Football Playoff rankings. Following a 37-15 loss to Oregon in the Pac-12 championship game, Utah finished No. 11 in the CFP rankings, while dropping to No. 12 in the AP Poll and No. 10 in the Coaches Poll going into the Alamo Bowl, which it lost to Texas, 38-10.

No. 5 Oregon was the only other Pac-12 team in the poll. Washington, USC and Cal all received votes.

On Tuesday afternoon, the final Amway Coaches Poll mirrored the AP Poll, with Oregon at No. 5, Utah 16th, and Washington, USC and Cal getting votes.

Final Associated Press Top 25

1. LSU

2. Clemson

3. Ohio State

4. Georgia

5. Oregon

6. Florida

7. Oklahoma

8. Alabama

9. Penn State

10. Minnesota

11. Wisconsin

12. Notre Dame

13. Baylor

14. Auburn

15. Iowa

16. Utah

17. Memphis

18. Michigan

19. Appalachian State

20. Navy

21. Cincinnati

22. Air Force

23. Boise State

24. UCF

25. Texas